Sernyl (PCP)

Well, yet again I was going to write a lengthy post about the history of another drug which fascinates me, but its history really isn’t that interesting. I speak of Phenyl-cyclohexyl-piperidine, or PCP as we all know it. And known in the medical community as Sernyl, its patented name. This is a drug I’ve never done, and wouldn’t do after what I’ve learned about it researching for this post.

It was discovered by accident by Victor Maddox at the American pharmaceutical company Park-Davis. It was introduced as an anesthetic in 1955, and was later taken off the market in 1967 because although in the proper dose it did its job as an anesthetic, after people woke up from it they would hallucinate for hours, or be psychotic, or think they were invincible or all of the above. In low doses it produces an anesthetic effect in the extremities, and it would otherwise have the same effect as a LOT of alcohol. With some hallucinations and dissociative effects added on. Doesn’t sound fun to me.

That same year it appeared to be used recreationally in major cities in the US. In 1978 Mike Wallace did a report on 60 Minutes describing it as “America’s Biggest Drug Problem” with zero evidence to support the claim, except for a very small number of cases in which people under the influence of it did bizarre things. It was, and always has been, a minor footnote in the category of recreational drugs. And Mike Wallace inadvertently contradicted his claim by highlighting the fact that PCP has wildly unpredictable effects on people. The very reason its use recreationally never became that large. It can knock you out, or make you think you can fly so you jump off a balcony. Or in the case of the minor rapper “Big Lurch”, cause you to kill your roommate and eat him. Maybe you’ll see fairies, or maybe you’ll turn into Hannibal Lecter. There’s just no way to know what it will do. You’re safer taking a very large dose  (the dose originally prescribed in hospitals) so it will just knock you out.

And here’s where fucking politics comes in. This is a Schedule 2 drug. Because veterinarians use it, well, probably only very old school ones do. Ketamine was derived from PCP and it’s far more predictable. With none of the hallucinogenic properties. I guess some vets don’t give a damn if your dog comes home hallucinating and behaving strange after being neutered. I don’t know. Meanwhile far more predictable drugs like LSD and worse, drugs that have never in the history of mankind killed anyone while having legitimate medical uses such as cannabis are Schedule 1. Prohibited completely. So those of us who are still searching for a pure form of LSD are more likely to be able to find PCP. Which I, for one, am not interested in.

Oh well. The Republican party gave us the “war on drugs”, and while utterly impossible to win, we’ll just keep throwing money at it, and building more prisons. That makes sense. Thanks for that, Nancy fucking Reagan. Well, her husband proposed the legislation.

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